FCHD Investigating Hepatitis A Cases

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The Floyd County Health Department (FCHD) is working with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to investigate several recent cases of Hepatitis A. The Floyd County Health Department is working to identify and notify individuals who may have been exposed.

As of February 2, 2018, 10 cases of Hepatitis A have been confirmed among Floyd County residents, one that is linked to BOB EVANS restaurant on State Street, New Albany, Indiana.  If you have eaten at BOB EVANS from February 20 to March 9 and develop any of the below symptoms you should seek medical attention.  However, given these dates of exposure routine prophylaxis (use of vaccine or immune globulin) is not recommended by the state or CDC authorities for this type of contact.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. It is highly contagious and is generally transmitted via Fecal - Oral routes or through consumption of contaminated food or water.

 

Who is at risk?

Although anyone can get Hepatitis A, some people are at greater risk, such as those who:

  • Travel to or live in countries where Hepatitis A is common
  • Have sexual contact with someone who has Hepatitis A
  • Use recreational drugs, whether injected or not
  • Have clotting-factor disorders, such as hemophilia
  • Are household members or caregivers of a person infected with Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.

How common is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A still occurs in the United States, although not as frequently as it once did. Over the last several decades, there has been more than a 90% decrease in Hepatitis A cases. New cases are now estimated to be around 3,000 each year. Many experts believe this decline is a result of the vaccination of children and people at risk for Hepatitis A. Many of the new cases, however, are from American travelers who got infected while traveling to parts of the world where Hepatitis A is common.

How is Hepatitis A spread?

 Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter—even in microscopic amounts—from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person.

 Hepatitis A can be spread when:

  • An infected person does not wash his/her hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touches objects or food
  • A caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person
  • Someone engages in sexual activities with an infected person.

Hepatitis A also can be spread through contaminated food or water. Contamination of food can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking. This most often occurs in countries where Hepatitis A is common.

Symptoms vary greatly, from severe to none at all. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach ache, dark (cola) colored urine, and light colored stools. Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin) may appear a few days after the onset of these symptoms. Persons can become ill 15 to 50 days after being exposed to the virus. Most people who get Hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. 

Anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact a healthcare provider immediately. Individuals with symptoms should not prepare or serve food to others and should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after eating and after restroom use.

The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through vaccination. Children in kindergarten through Grade 3 have likely been immunized against Hepatitis A. Older children and adults may not have been immunized and are urged to check their vaccination status.  It is also possible to prevent infection under some circumstances by the use of immune globulin.

For more information about Hepatitis A, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm